Weight Training Has Made Me More Libertarian

by | Dec 2, 2016

I’ve lost 25lbs since April, and it’s none of your business.

Trust me, I am as loathe to discuss my personal issues with weight, body image, fitness and diet as you are to read about them. Nevertheless, I’m happy to share that tidbit about my physical transformation. This is because it runs parallel with an even more important shift — one which took place within me. These changes are due to my newfound self-care activity of weight training, and they manifest in 3 key, inherently libertarian ways: greater independence, greater food consciousness, and greater physical strength.

It’s made me more independent

It dawned on me two weeks ago when I was wrapping up a journey-to-nowhere on a stationary bike. I looked up from my phone and cast about, worried for the thousandth time that someone had noticed I was checking Twitter while working out and therefore not really going hard, bro. But another thought rushed into my mind. It was the acknowledgement that it didn’t matter whether someone saw or judged me for my choices. Likewise, the people I saw doing things I didn’t understand on other machines weren’t any of my concern. For the first time, this thought held depth and weight; it wasn’t just a fleeting self-admonishment. That was when I realized this whole exercise thing was changing my attitudes, not just my measurements.

Some of this increase in independence is attributable to the training style I’m under, which is decidedly libertarian. Every time I have asked Angela Keaton — yes, that’s my trainer — whether I should do such and such exercise or eat such and such food, she frustrates my efforts at codependence by repeating the fact that it is up to me to determine what feels right for my body, not her or anyone else. At first I wondered what the point was of having a trainer who was so hands-off, but I’ve come to respect her approach. She is more of a sounding board, making small corrections where necessary. She is not — and clearly refuses to be — the dictator of my fitness routine. (I am embarrassed to show her such respect in a public forum since she is normally the subject of much jocular harassment on my part, but it’s the truth. She’s got her shit together.)

It’s made me even angrier at farm subsidies

The first thing I did to change my eating habits was to eliminate dairy. This helped me to discover my lactose intolerance, which in turn made me a better libertarian all by itself. Just saying, it’s hard to fight oppression when you’re farting constantly. Showing such an improvement, I decided not to stop there. Slowly but surely, I’ve also been cutting meat and animal products out of my meals in favor of proteins and fats from plants.

Moving in this direction has afforded me the headspace to better contemplate the atrocities of federal farm subsidies. When I interviewed the late Minnesota Senator Rod Grams in 2013, he told a personal story of watching the farm bill change the face of American agriculture from what he’d grown up with on his family’s land. Grams seemed disturbed by his fellow Members of Congress who voted to support outdated subsidy provisions.

Unfortunately, the unintended consequences of ag policy go beyond economic distortion. Everyone knows by now that encouraging farmers to produce so much milk, meat and eggs puts enormous pressure on the animals, whose physical forms suffer greatly for it. Factor in the depravity of some of the handlers, and it’s little wonder my more liberal friends call the meat industry a contemporary holocaust.

Indeed, my impetus toward veganism is motivated less by personal health concerns than by the horror and disgust I feel when researching the conditions to which farm animals are subjected as a result of government intervention. Every time I drink a shake made with vegan protein powder or cut up some soy sausages for lunch, I’m doing so with the causes of personal health, animal welfare, and free enterprise on my mind.

Duh — it’s made me physically stronger

Living in a society where might is right, and a city that seems to aspire to its dystopian fictional portrayals, and wanting to be ever-vigilant of even distant threats, it’s important to me to have some level of physical strength. You know, for emergency situations. Say there’s an epidemic outbreak and the government decides to deal with it by quarantining areas and killing everyone within the perimeter, and unless I escape, I’m toast. Well, now that I can lift heavier things and run farther distances without hurting myself or crapping out, I’m that much more confident in my ability to oppose the state and/or survive in case of some kind of apocalyptic episode like that.

I pray to only ever need my improved physique for mating ritual purposes, of course. Nevertheless, should the day come that I need my strength in a real, live, life-or-death situation, I’ll be at least a little more up to the task than I was 8 months ago, and I wouldn’t put it past The Man to engineer that very situation.

About Julie Ershadi

Julie Ershadi is an independent correspondent based in Los Angeles and, previously, Washington, D.C. She writes about war and foreign policy, Iranian-American issues, pop culture and video games.

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